Friday, January 06, 2017

Is Vacation Over Already?

I don’t know about you, but at one time, it was a real downer for me to return to school after vacation. Stress was my middle name, I'd spend time worrying what I was going to teach, wondering about the lessons I'd have to reteach and thinking about that parent meeting scheduled after vacation. I'd get really bummed out the day before until I learned a few tricks I'd like to share. 

*Organize, Organize, Organize! Before you go off to vacation land, finish writing those lesson plans so you can ease on in the first day back and you don't have to concern yourself with what you're going to do once you return.

*Most importantly, come up with a fun lesson that both you and the kids will enjoy. One year I brought in some soap suds and bubble blowers. The kids blew bubbles and wrote a story about them. Some wrote about floating away, while others talked about blowing the largest bubble in the world. Brainstorm for other ideas to use. 

*Plan on watching a film and have the kids take notes so that they can write a paper about it. In my case it was either for English or Ancient History.There are  many great historical fiction flicks or documentaries that enhance the subjects that are taught. One that I used was "Cry Freedom," an excellent film that brings to light the plight of African Americans during Apartheid in South Africa. My class was very moved by this film and had many things to say about it.  This is a tough film to watch so I wouldn't recommend it for elementary grades.

*Don’t try to get too much done, just take things at an easy pace till you get back into   the groove.

*Oh and don’t forget to have your morning meeting, this helps everyone get ready for the rest of the day. I read somewhere that when you talk about vacations, a great way to go about it is to ask them who they spent their vacation with rather than what they did. That way you'll learn more about their feelings and attitudes.

*Play a SCOOT game, it may get a little loud, but the kids will be able to get up and move around a bit and have fun while learning.

*Give yourself a break, papers will get corrected when they corrected.
Honestly, they don't have to be returned right away. I learned this 
from my teaching partner, you just need to let them know that they'll get 
them back soon enough. Some of their work can even be corrected by the
kids themselves.You can appoint a child to read the answers aloud. 
Kids love being the teacher.

*Another thing that I promised myself, was to take a day off once in a while,
 just to re-group and take a breath. If you know that on such and such a day,
 you’re going to take a break, it really helps. 

Unfortunately, there’s no magical answer for beating the end of vacation
blues, we’ve all been there and it’s normal to feel this way. Remember that 
you really do love your job and your students, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the classroom. Anyway, the next season is spring, and it isn’t thaaaaaat far away.

I hope these ideas will help you  have a wonderful rest of the year with your students.
Here's a resource that will help you get through the winter. There are all sorts of writing activities for January and February. New Year Resolutions, Martin Luther King, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day and miscellaneous winter writing task cards. You can purchase the bundle which will save you money or by these items separately.
Snow Wonderful Literacy & History Writing Prompts

I'd like to thank Gramma Elliott for this amazing font that she created and shared with me.
This is part of our January Blog Link-up. Be sure to see what these Teachers are doing this month

Read More »

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Election Musings in December

I woke up this morning, December 6, almost a month since the election and
realized that we truly are living in an alternate reality, a time and place that I no longer recognize.  Where our freedom and first Amendment rights are in jeopardy.  This is not the United States that I remember.  We are surrounded by a dark ominous cloud.  The president is no longer a person that our children can look up to. I truly hope that I’m wrong and that our country can come together. Sadly, I’m not feeling very hopeful at this point.

What do we say to our children? How do we let them know that bullying is wrong, that hatred and prejudice are wrong? We do this by talking to them and by being the person that they can look up to.  I came across this letter that a father wrote to his children the day after the election. He said what is probably on many of our minds.

“I know that you asked for me to wake you up when we learned who won the election. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I am very sorry to let you know that Donald Trump has won. He will be the President for at least the next four years.

Mom and I are very upset by this, and we know that you will be too.  We want you to know a few things:

1. We are not alone. Millions of people voted for Hillary Clinton. They share our shock and disbelief this morning.
2. You don’t need to be afraid.  Even though you have heard hateful things from Trump and his supporters, there are ALWAYS people that will stand up to that hate. Together we will protect each other and the values we find important.
3. There is a lot to be hopeful about.  This isn’t the end of a fight. This is just another chapter of a struggle that’s been going on for a long time.  If you look at the progress we’ve  made as a country and as a planet, you’ll see that there is much to celebrate.  This type of setback happens often, and it makes us even stronger.

You have learned in school about the dream of what our country can be. Today you might be learning that there is still a long way to go before that dream becomes reality for all of us.  But I still believe in that dream very strongly, and so should you.

I hope this experience helps you understand why Mom and I spend a great deal of time and energy fighting for things that we believe in.  Why we speak up when we see something that we think is wrong.  We hope that as you grow up and make up your own minds about things, that you’ll join us in this struggle.  We know that your passions will allow you to accomplish great things.

Days like this are hard. But they are also great reminders of how important it is to keep fighting for what is right, and we will.” by Joel Levin

After reading this, with tears in my eyes, I felt a bit stronger, I knew that
together we could make a difference.  So I’ve joined thousands of teachers to make our voices heard, to show kindness instead of anger and hate. To be the people our children can look up to. As  Mrs. Obama said, “ When they go low, we go high.”  We all need to remember that “Love Trumps Hate!”

Caught in the Act of Being Kind
With this in mind, I’ve put together a resource called, “Caught in the Act of Being Kind.” Whenever a child witnesses someone doing a kind deed for
someone else, that person will be rewarded with a kindness card that can be saved in their kindness booklet.

Since the holiday season can be a sad one for so many people. "How to Beat the Holiday Blues," is another creation meant to help those kiddos who are unhappy.

How to Beat the Holiday Blues
I can’t think of a better time to show good will to each other than the holiday season which is upon us.

Thank you for stopping by.  Have a wonderful holiday season.


This is a part of our December Teacher Talk blog link up. Please check out these blog posts from other educators.

Read More »

Thursday, November 24, 2016


During this holiday season, I’m participating in a one day #GiveBackFriday sale with a wonderful group of teacherpreneurs. I’d especially like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of my customers and friends by offering two products at 50% off. Since this is the time for giving, I’ll be donating 20% of my profits to an organization called American Foundation for Children with Aids (AFCA) run by my niece, Tanya Abadia. 

AFCA supports efficient and sustainable programs that promote self-reliance for children infected and/or affected by Aids as well as their families and caregivers.  They work in regions that are underserved and marginalized providing care that is measurable, real and hope filled.  If you’re interested learning more about this organization, here is a link. 

 All you have to do is go to Tpt and type in #GiveBackFriday and you will see all the items that are half price.

The resources that I’m including are a values lesson entitled How to Beat the Holiday Blues. Holidays are a time of sadness for many, and our children are not immune. This little activity will help them to feel better about themselves.  It involves having the children give complimentary notes to each other, and the teacher.

Socrates Lantern's Tpt Store
The second resource is a winter writing prompt bundle entited, Sno Wonderful Literacy and History Writing Prompts for Winter. It includes: No Prep Printables such as Writing Task Cards, and Posters for Narrative, Persuasive, Descriptive, Expository and Creative Writing.  History, Legends, Comprehension Questions, Rough Drafts, Graphic Organizers, Timelines, and  Final Copy Sheets.  Writing Activities consist of New Year’s Resolutions, Martin Luther King Jr, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and; General Winter Themes.

Socrates Lantern's Tpt Store

Read More »

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Swap

Don’t you just love the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven? Sometimes I think that it smells better than it tastes. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Since Thanksgiving is the time for savory, mouth watering delights, how about having your class participate in a favorite recipe swap. This will get them ready for the holiday and have some fun while doing it.

Introduce this activity by talking about foods eaten for the holidays such as Easter, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year,Thanksgiving Christmas, etc. Write all suggestions on the board. After this is finished, let them know that they will be participating in a recipe swap. Ask them to choose their favorite Thanksgiving recipe, write it down, and make up questions about it. I've come up with blank recipe cards as well as question and answer cards. By the way, you should make a copy of your favorite recipe too.

When the anticipated day arrives, they can break into their collaborative groups, have one child read their recipe, and then ask questions about it. Make sure you have enough time so that everyone can participate.

Collect the recipes and photocopy them so that each child has a copy. If this is too tedious, have the children choose the recipes that they like the best and have them copy them on the cards. Once finished, they can be stapled together and put into a little booklet that can be taken home and shared with their families.

As a culmination to this activity, and if time permits, have a tasting party, let each child bring in their favorite dish. if you decide to do this, you can let your class decorate festive placemats for the occasion. 

*Turkey image by: Sticky Foot Studio

Thanksgiving Recipe Swap

This is part of our November Teacher Talk, check out these great blog posts.

Read More »

Sunday, October 09, 2016

It's BOO-Tober, Time for Some Sensory Poems

It’s BOOtober and the perfect time to get those creative juices flowing in your 5-8 grade students. Fall is the perfect season for this. Can’t you just hear the rustling of leaves under your feet, or the howling wind as the days begin to grow colder. How about biting into that first crisp red apple of the season. I just love Macouns, my tongue waters as I think about the tart sweetness of my favorite fruit.

Flip Book:Sensory Poems @Socrates Lantern

                                        I love the smell of maple syrup as it’s being removed from the trees? A friend of mine tapped hers one year and I remember the sweet, delicious aroma that permeated the air. I could just taste the syrup on some buckwheat pancakes, yum!

October is the perfect month for using your senses, the sights, sounds, tastes of the season are all around us. Why not take advantage of it with a poetry writing activity that I've finished in time for Halloween.

To get you started, bring in some paper cups or paper bags. Place a different object into each one. The children are to close their eyes and feel it. With Halloween in mind, use some items that work well with the holiday, for instance, a grape feels like an eyeball, yuck!  Silly putty, marshmallows, even those squishy spiders or snakes that you can purchase at a dollar store, would do the trick. A dog toy shaped like a frankfurter would feel like intestines. I know the kids will love the creepiness of this and they'll want to write about it. Other objects you could use are tiny pumpkins, sandpaper, hair, something rubbery. Pumpkin seeds, chocolate, hard candy, those weird tasting jellybeans would be great for tasting. Use your imagination and you'll come up with more.

This other activity is called Halloween Spooks, it's a great way to get those minds thinking and writing some spooky stories in collaborative groups and or individually.

Halloween Spooks Creative Writing @Socrates Lantern
Please visit Socrates Lantern's Social Media Sites


This is part of our October Teacher Talk. Be sure to see what these
other educators are doing this month.

Read More »

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Teacher Author Appreciation & Autumn Solstice TagDay Sale and Giveaway

I hope everyone has had the best back to school year ever. In honor of the fall equinox and Teacher Author Appreciation Day,  I'm teaming up with some 15 other TpT sellers and collaborators to bring you an amazing weekend of steals, and #tagday deals and giveaways for grades 3-6 and SPED. You don’t want to miss out on this SALE, so be sure to mark your calendars. It begins Friday Sept. 23, 2016 @12 am EST and ends Monday Sept. 25, 2016 @ 12 am.

Fall Writing Activities
First up a set of Fall Writing Activities with everything you need for the season. 32 Writing task cards consisting of Expository, Persuasive and Narrative writing ideas and story starters. Themes include Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Sandwich Day, Election Day, Candy Day and Cake Day. As an added extra, a humorous poster of a thinking turkey with the quote,"If this Turkey Could Talk, What Would He Say?" Great for discussion and or written assignment.
Halloween Spooks
Next is an excerpt from my BOOtober Creative Writing Resource. The teacher will read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. You may choose a different story if you like. Discuss what makes a scary story. Be sure to let them know that suspense and surprise endings are important elements in this genre. For a collaborative activity, they will write a scary Halloween tale with their partners and each person will contribute. To spark their natural competitiveness, let them know that they will read their piece to the class who will choose which tale is the scariest. You could give the winning group something special for Halloween. When the appointed day arrives, have them sit in a circle and pretend they are around the
campfire, they can use flashlights for the effect.  Turn off the lights, play some scary music and set the stage.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and my final  resource being offered , is called, What am I Thankful For, and includes a values lesson that will help your students  think about this.
What am I Thankful For?

FINALLY, we’re holding a RAFFLECOPTER for a chance to win a product of your choice, from one of these awesome stores. So be sure to enter by FOLLOWING my store and /or  others. The more stores or Facebook pages you like, the more chances you have to win. Type #tagday at Tpt to find all the shops that are in this FALLWONDERFUL SALE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Read More »

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Remembering 9/11

I remember September 11 as if it were yesterday. I woke up to a spectacular morning, not a cloud in the deep blue sky. The day was simply perfect.  I went through my usual morning routine, got in my car and drove to work thinking about my class and the kind of day it would be. I arrived at school, went to my room to gather my thoughts and prepare for what was ahead. Soon my students began to trickle into homeroom, announcements over and Channel One, our news channel had ended. We had our morning meeting, switched classes and World History began.

At 9:20 we escorted our 6th graders to the gym for their P.E class, it was now our planning period. As is our usual custom, my partner and I went to the office to check our mailboxes. Unfortunately, this was not to be an ordinary day, I turned when I heard a loud noise coming from the TV set that the secretaries were watching and was horrified at what I saw, it was the 2nd plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I felt as if I were in a nightmare, disbelief and terror filling my head. We both stood there speechless, unable to comprehend what our eyes were showing us. I called my husband and told him what had happened, he spent the day glued to the tv. Being a New Yorker for a good many years, he was affected deeply. To this day, he is unable to watch videos of that fateful day.

Back to reality, I knew that somehow I'd had to get through this day. The principal told us not to tell our students, he didn't want them to panic. He planned to break the news to them at an assembly later that afternoon. With my heart in my stomach, I picked up my class and had to continue teaching as if everything was fine.

The time just dragged on, I felt like a robot going through the motions, though the children had no idea that anything was wrong. During lunch the teachers were glued to the television set that was in our lounge. I couldn't eat a thing, my stomach just kept turning over.

Lunch finished, we picked up our charges and brought them to the auditorium where the principal broke the news. There was an eerie silence, you could hear 
a pin drop. He really didn't go into much detail, but answered any questions that the kids had. I remember that one of our students an Afghani went home early, he was picked up by his parents, they were afraid That there would be repercussions.

Back at homeroom, a few kids broke down and cried, others were worried about aunts, uncles, friends of the family who worked at the towers. I tried my best to alleviate their fears, and keep them calm. Needless to say we had a few group hugs. The day finally ended, buses were called and when the last person left, I put my head on my desk and wept.
Remembering the Vigiano Brothers

My cousin's wife lost two of her relatives. They were first responders, one was a fireman, the other a policeman. Wonderful courageous people who gave their lives to help others. Though I never met them, they will always be in my heart as will all of those who lost their lives during this horrible tragedy.


This post is part of our September Teacher Talk Blog link up. Please check out what these  dedicated teachers have to say.

Read More »